Friday, June 22, 2007


One of the biggest and most controversial issues in the U.S. today is immigration. Our politicians bicker back and forth about amnesty and unearned benefits while ignoring the fact that our economy and that of every country producing gewgaws for the marketplace rides on the backs of cheap laborers. Always has. Probably always will.

But there is another problem related to immigration that we ignore as though it didn’t exist. On his Link TV show Viewpoint yesterday, James Zogby explored the refugee problem we have created for the people of Iraq.

So what’s the magnitude of the problem? Here’s a bit of what the Baltimore Sun had to say about the situation:

“Iraq has been called the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. The largest numbers – 1.2 million, at last count – are in Syria, with another 750,000 in Jordan, 200,000 in the Persian Gulf states and 100,000 in Egypt. As an estimated 50,000 more arrive per month, the neighboring countries have begun to construct new barriers, physical and bureaucratic, to entry. Including the 2 million internally displaced Iraqis, nearly 15 percent of the Iraqi population is displaced inside or outside the country.”

We hear talk of the need to keep our troops in Iraq because it would be unfair to have upset the country and then walk away while it’s still a mess. I find some resonance in that argument, but the refugee situation has turned my thinking around. The numbers are just so staggering. Fifty thousand refugees a month, that’s what we are creating over there.

All other considerations aside, forcing so many people out of their homes into the streets is an unforgivable thing to do. We read the body count of American soldiers in the papers every day, and sometimes even the number of Iraqi dead, but these people, too, are casualties of this war, and what do we hear about them from the U.S. press? Nothing, nada, zilch.And where are they going? The internal displaced are homeless, living with relatives or in temporary housing in regions mostly populated by others of the same religious sect. Most who have migrated are in Syria – one of those countries our president would rather not talk to. Well why the hell should they want to talk to us?

We have created this enormous burden that they are forced to bear. We have done nothing about it.Look at those numbers in the Sun article again and then tell me how many refugees have come to the U.S. Hmmm, the U.S. isn’t even mentioned there, is it? Well, there’s good reason for that. So far, the U.S. has accepted 70 people. Seventy people!! Oh but we’ve pledged to take more.

So how many have we pledged to take? 7,000. That’s right, seven thousand. Oh how generous we are. If we wanted to live up to the “moral standards” Bush keeps waving around like a flag, we would invite every person we displaced to come and live among us and we would pay reparations for every life we have unnecessarily taken.

Everyone would come out ahead if we pulled our troops out immediately then spent half the money we are spending every day on war on helping the people we’ve displaced to live as well as circumstances allow then return to their homeland as soon as the horrors we’ve created have subsided.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored. But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

No comments: